Academy Sopwith Camel
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The kit comes in a very well illustrated sturdy box. Each sprue is housed in a separate plastic bag, the decals are also in its own bag. The instructions are clearly described with easy to follow steps and good diagrams, there is a rigging diagram as well and two pages dedicated to painting and decal instruction. The two marking schemes supplied with the kit are Capt. A.R. Brown, No.209 Squadron, RAF, May 1918 and No.43 Squadron, RAF, mid 1918.

The plastic is a mid grey colour and moulded detail is very neat and crisp, there is very little flash but there are a lot of ejector pin marks, 16 on the inside of each fuselage half and in very inappropriate places. The otherwise reasonable wicker seat has been ruined by the ejector marks, it is a shame that a little more thought is not used to move the position of some of these marks. The wings have over exaggerated wing ribs, these will require sanding down. The engine looks okay, detail appears to be pretty good but work will be needed to make it look more authentic. The decals look fine, they are very thin and the colour is good, there are no decals for the instruments. The kit comes with a roll of black rigging twine, not at all suitable for this scale of model. First impression is not a bad looking kit, once I get into the build any misgivings will show up fairly quickly. This is a very inexpensive kit, only $17, so for anyone who wants to get a start in 1:32 scale WW1 aircraft models this is a cost effective way.


The build

The engine supplied with the kit is pretty good, there are issues with mould alignment which throws the alignment of the cylinder cooling fins between the two halves out of whack. I removed the plastic push rods and drilled 0.5mm holes into the cam follower housing. I firstly used a short length of 0.5mm brass tube, into this I inserted a length of 0.3mm brass tube, these were inserted into the 0.5mm holes, CA holds it to the rocker arm. I removed all the bolts around the crank case and replaced them with Grandt Line bolts, they are now positioned as per the photos. The crank case is painted with Mr Metal Color Stainless and the cylinders with Mr Metal Color Dark Iron, when dry it was buffed with a soft brush. I did very little to the top of the cylinders, none of this will be seen as the engine cowl covers the entire outer portion of the engine. There are two spark plugs per cylinder, 18 in total, they are made from 0.4mm brass tube and rbmotion brass nuts (.025” hex, 1280B), a length of 0.2mm drill bit is inserted into the tube to take the ignition leads.


NOTE; There is a very detailed PE set available which would greatly enhance the appearance of this model, but the cost of the PE set is 3 times the price of the kit which would make it an expensive model. I prefer to make and add my own details so I will be showing it throughout my build.

I’m in the process of making a new instrument panel, the kit supplied panel is nowhere near what the original looks like. I cut the panel from plastic card making sure it was a precise fit inside the fuselage, the gun positions are also precisely cut out. I’m using aeroclub instrument bezels which are perfect for this application, the black ones are painted with black printer ink then sprayed with flat clear. The magneto switches are shaped from 1.0mm brass rod, a hole is drilled in the centre then a 0.3mm brass tube fitted, a blob of filler forms the little knob on the switch lever. The compass is home made from scrap brass tube fitted over a bezel. The panel is painted with Gunze yellow then oil paint used to simulate the timber, it is overly gloss at the moment ready for the decals, it will be sprayed with a satin finish when completed. All bezels and accessories are sitting only for the photo, nothing is fixed yet. The decals will be applied first then the bezels.


Ignition leads are made from 0.13mm copper wire. I drilled 0.3mm holes into the ring behind the engine which supports the intake manifolds, I glued the copper wire into each hole with CA, then I put each wire over the spark plug end then applied a drop of CA, once it was dry I snipped off the excess wire, as stated before, there are 18 ignition leads, the engine is now completed.


The instrument panel has been sprayed with Humbrol Satin Cote, once dry the airscale instrument decals were applied in the appropriate positions, I used a combination of airscale 1:48 and 1:32 scale instrument decals to suit the size of the aeroclub bezels. I allowed the decals to dry then positioned each bezel over the instruments making sure they were centred, I then put a few drops of Humbrol Gloss Cote onto each decal, this covered the decal and also ran under the bezels, when dry this acted as a glue and holds the bezels in place as well as giving a ‘glass’ face to the instruments. The pulsometer and the air pressure relief valve are made from scraps from my spares bin and are held in place with CA.  I also fitted two small washer around the two magneto switches, these came from the aeroclub bezel PE set. The manufacturers nameplate is from left over decals from another kit. The Sopwith Camel has a very confined cockpit so not a lot of the instrument panel will be seen especially when the machine gun support bar is fitted in front of the instrument panel and the machine guns fitted, the two machine gun cocking handles also hang in front of the instrument panel.


I have started work on the fuselage frames. I firstly removed all the moulded details forward of the rear bulkhead and filled the ejector pin holes. I am making the frame from Evergreen 0.75mm x 0.75mm stock following plans downloaded from the net. The inside of the fuselage has been sprayed with Gunze yellow, the plywood panels will be simulated with oil paint and the frames done in a darker colour timber.


I added a new forward floor using plastic card, holes have been drilled for the rudder bar and control column. I also added floor boards where the seat is to be located, these are also from plastic card. I used a length of 0.65mm copper wire bent to shape and fitted to the top forward section of the frames, this is the machine gun support bar. The rear bulk head with head rest is made from plastic card and attached to the frame. The curved timber fixed to the outside of the frames are made from 0.5mm x 0.5mm Evergreen square stock, these are the stringer supports.  Everything has been sprayed with Gunze H313 Yellow, next I will be applying the oil paint to simulate timber frames and floors.


The cockpit interior is now completed apart from the fitting of the seat, I didn’t go overboard with detailing as not a lot of it will be seen. I wound 0.07mm wire around the top of the control column and added the cable connection bracket, I also made new trigger switches. I made a fuel pressure pump and add copper wire as plumbing. I fitted two pulleys above the rudder bar and installed the elevator rigging around the pulleys. I had to make a totally new rudder bar as the kit item was not correct. The throttle quadrant is made from 0.3mm brass tube bent to shape then flattened. All the control cables are 0.12mm mono with 0.4mm brass tube sleeves, they are all painted with Mr Metal Color Stainless then polished. The metal foot plates in front of the rudder bar is cut from the kit floor panel and reduced in thickness. Photo on the right of the three photos shows the scratch built cockpit assembly, scratch built instrument panel, modified seat, machine guns and engine all ready for fitment.


The cockpit is now fitted to one side of the fuselage, it is glued in place. Then I closed up the fuselage, the cockpit assembly fitted perfectly because of the accurate measurements during the construction of the cockpit and fuselage frames, it is important to dry fit these assemblies during each stage of construction to make sure the final product is going to fit properly.


The top picture shows a dry fit of the guns and the engine cowl, the engine firewall has been fitted as well as the top coaming, both these items fitted well. The air intake pipes are situated too high and they are too big, so I will remove them, drill a hole lower down and fit a 2.0mm brass pipe through the fuselage. The spent shell and used ammo belt exit chute is also too high, this will be lowered and a 2.0mm x 2.0mm square tube fitted.


I removed the moulded intake tube and drilled a 2.0mm hole a little lower in both sides, I then slipped a length of 2.0mm brass tube through the fuselage, this now becomes the intake pipe. The spent shell exit chute is made from thin brass sheet, I folded the sheet to form a 2.0mm square then placed it in the square hole which has been filed longer from where the original hole was located, the original hole now becomes the top section and the new filed hole is the bottom exit, CA holds it in place. I noticed in the photo that one of my machine gun cocking handles needs to reduced in length, I will also be working on the three filler caps to make them look more appropriate.


I drilled three 2.5mm holes in the fuselage to take the three filler caps, two for the fuel and one for oil. I used a 2.0mm brass rod and filed the end to form a small handle for undoing the cap, over this rod I fitted a very small brass washer and CA’d it as close to the top as possible, I then placed an instrument bezel over the top of the brass rod and allowed it to sit on the small washer, I used CA to hold it in place. I then cut the brass rod to about 10.0mm long and inserted it into the hole in the fuselage, the instrument bezel rests on top of the fuselage. At this point they are not fixed, I am still waiting for the oil paint on the fuselage to dry fully then it will be clear coated. These filler caps are not exactly correct but are close enough.


The wheels supplied with this kit are a one piece moulding and are pretty good. I decided to make the axle show through the hub with a retaining pin. I used a length of 1.0mm brass tube, close to the end of this tube I drilled a 0.3mm hole through the tube. I drilled a 1.0mm hole in the centre of the hub and inserted the brass tube, over the end of this I placed a small brass washer then I inserted a 0.3mm drill bit into the hole in the brass tube. Slide the tube into the wheel until the washer is pressed hard against the retaining pin (0.3mm drill bit) then add a few small drops of CA to hold the washer to the tube and the pin in the tube, the end result is as per the photo on the right.


Fuselage wood colour

I used Hobby Color H313 Yellow as the base coat, it was air brushed and allowed to dry for a minimum of two hours. I then used Burnt Sienna oil paint with just a tad of Raw Umber oil paint, I also added about 50% Liquin to the oil paint, all this was mixed thoroughly to a smooth creamy consistency. I masked the surrounding area using Tamiya tape, this saves the hassle of having to clean the oil paint from unwanted areas. I applied the oil paint with a flat soft brush about 3.0mm wide dragging the paint in one direction, after each stroke I wiped the brush on a piece of lint free cloth. Continue doing this until the desired look is achieved, don’t be afraid to add more paint if it looks a little under done. Once completed, remove the tape then put the model aside in a dust free place and allow to dry, with the large amount of liquin it should dry fairly quickly, but it depends on how thick the paint was applied. Once it is fully dry I will spray it with a satin clear.


The wings, tail plane, fin and rudder all had overly exaggerated ribs, so I sanded these down to look more appropriate. There were also ejector pin marks on all flying surfaces so these needed filling. The hole in the flying surfaces to take the rigging lines were way too big so I filled them, new smaller holes will be drilled. If you are building this model and want to sand the ribs down, be prepared to spend about 2 - 3 hours doing the job.


A check with reference material has show that the holes in the bottom wing for the rear flying wires is way out of position, they are 12.0mm too far rearward, the holes have been filled and new smaller holes will be drilled to take the cables. The bottom wing dihedral was too flat, it was only about 2 degrees where it should be around 4.5 degrees. To rectify this I made cuts on the bottom of the wing where the wing root adjoins the fuselage, I used a very sharp scalpel. I then bent the wings to the correct angle making sure each wing was the same and matched the scale plans. I then filled the small cut line with super glue making sure the cut was filled completely, the wing was then set aside and the glue allowed to dry fully. Alterations to the wing struts may be necessary.


The fuselage timber has been has been sprayed with two coats of Humbrol Satin Cote, this will be allowed to dry for 24 hours. The bottom of the wings have been sprayed with Hobby Color H313 Yellow FS33531 to simulate a darker CDL. Next step will be to pre-shade the ribs, this will be done with lead pencil then a few mist coats of the yellow to give a translucent look.


I have added my interpretation of PC10 to the fuselage, it is Hobby Color H421 Brown Violet with 25% flat white added. The timber was coated with two coats of Humbrol Satin Cote and allowed to dry for two days, I then masked the timber and sprayed the PC10.


The pre-shading is done using a lead pencil, this is a very simple quick and easy way to do this. After the mist coats of CDL were dry I applied two coats of Humbrol Matt Cote.


The engine is now fixed in position, it mounted very well and a trial fit of the cowl revealed no interference. The two machine guns are also fixed along with the sight between the two guns. The forward section of the fuselage has been painted with Humbrol Polished Aluminium, the engine firewall was done with the same paint. The carby intake pipe is painted with Mr Metal Color Stainless and the spent shell exit chute with Humbrol polished steel. I have also fitted the three filler caps, one forward for the oil tank and the two behind the cockpit for the two fuel tanks, these are held in place with a small drop of CA.


This model will be done to depict B6401 of No.3 Naval Squadron RNAS 1918 flown by Canadian pilot Lloyd S Breadner, I will be using Spada decals supplied by Mike Taylor of Misterkit. The red used on the engine cowl and wheels is Humbrol No.220 Ferrari Red, the white on the wheels has been hand painted using Humbrol No.22 Gloss White, the tyres are done with Floquil Grimy Black. The wing ribs have been reduced quite considerably and painted with the same paint as the fuselage, Hobby Color H421 Brown Violet with 25% Gunze H11 Flat White, there were a lot of ejector pin marks on the top surface of both wings, these needed filling. I have also cut the square holes in the bottom wings to allow the flying wires to be attached to the underside of the fuselage. I painted the Cabane struts and the undercarriage struts in a lighter wood colour, I first sprayed them with Gunze H313 Yellow then applied Raw Sienna oil paint with at least 50% Liquin. Once they are dry I will spray several coats of Humbrol Satincote. The home made gun sight is painted with Floquil Engine Black, the ends have been left natural brass. The inside of the engine cowl has been painted with Floquil Bright Silver. The photos show the bottom wing and the tail plane sitting in position only, they are not fixed. The bottom wing attachment to the fuselage is excellent and requires no trimming to obtain a very good fit. There were no holes in the forward fuselage just behind the engine cowl to take the forward legs of the undercarriage so these were drilled, also the forward flying wire attachment points in the fuselage were in the wrong position, I filled these and relocated the holes further forward. All holes have been drilled in both wings to take the eyelets and turnbuckles ready for rigging, these are 0.4mm drilled three parts of the way into the wings.


The bottom wing and tail plane are now fixed, the bottom wing fitted perfectly to the fuselage, this would have to be one of the best fitting wings I have come across. I also fixed the undercarriage, it also went on very well and is quite strong, the rigging makes it a very stable assembly. I used 0.12mm mono for the rigging held in position with CA. The wheels are also fixed in position. I made the small mounting brackets for the tail plane rigging from flattened 0.5mm brass tube, a 0.4mm hole was drilled in each end 1.5mm apart, they were given a slight bend through the centre then fixed to the tail plane by passing a 0.4mm length of copper wire through the top bracket, through the tail plane then through the bracket under the tail plane, CA holds everything in place, they are painted with Mr Metal Color Stainless then buffed. I also made the four (two each side) mounting plates for the engine cowl, they are done with flattened 0.5mm brass tube and a 0.4mm hole drilled 2.0mm apart, a short length of copper wire holds them in place with CA. Once the glue has dried the wire is snipped off as close to the plates as possible.


The turnbuckles have been fixed to the bottom wing and to the fuselage in preparation for the rigging, the turnbuckles are made from 0.5mm brass tube with 0.13mm twisted copper wire used for the eyelets. The two forward struts are now fixed in position and the wind driven air pump had been painted, I also added a length of copper wire to simulate the pipe connection. I am still awaiting the arrival of the decals for this model so not a great deal can be done until they arrive, it has been two weeks already since I placed the order.


The first thing I had to do was to reduce the length of the four interplane struts by 1.0mm, this is to allow for the greater dihedral on the bottom wing and to keep the top wing straight. The struts sit at roughly 20 degrees forward from the vertical so the mounting foot on the struts is not at the correct angle to sit in the wing, I will have to sand each one to the appropriate angle. The pitot assembly on the strut was a pretty bad representation so I made a new one. I cut away most of the kit pitot assembly leaving only a small section in the centre, I then cut lengths of 0.4mm brass tube and using CA fixed them as seen in the photo, it is important to make sure that the tubes are horizontal when in the flying position. I used Gunze black to paint the mounting bracket and I left the brass tube natural.


The prop was first painted with Hobby Color H313 Yellow, when dry I applied Burnt Umber oil paint to simulate wood. The prop hub is painted with Mr Metal Stainless then buffed. The two rear cabane struts are now fitted, the mounting pins on these struts are very small and do not offer a great deal of strength. I applied plastic glue to the pins and held them in place for a few minutes until the glue took, I then turned the model over and placed it onto the inverted top wing making sure that the forward struts fitted into their mounting holes, I then positioned the rear struts so they also fitted into their mounting holes, the tail will need to be elevated to keep the wings parallel. I left it in this position for about 4 hours, then I turned the model over, leaving the top wing on my bench, and applied a few drops of CA around the bottom of the rear cabane struts, this gave them the extra strength need where they fit into the side of the fuselage. The propeller is not fixed at this stage, it is only sitting there for show.


Decal application is well under way. The roundels on the wings and fuselage are the ones supplied with the kit, they are pretty good and applied very well with the help of a little Mr Mark Softer, the rudder decals are also the kit supplied decals. The remainder of the decals are Spada decals, do not, I repeat, do not use any type of decal setting solution on these decals, if you do the decal will disintegrate, use only water on the surface, doing this will allow you plenty of time to adjust the position of the decals before they grab the surface. The decals are very thin and require careful handling, take care when patting them down as creases can occur very easily. As can be seen in the photos the gloss finish is still visible where the decals are applied, the surface finish will be a satin clear coat. This is a very colourful scheme, a little outlandish but different, I still need to do some minor touch-ups with some of the decals.


The entire model, apart from the engine cowl, has now been sprayed with Humbrol SatinCote, this gives a nice semi gloss finish and protects/seals the decals. First photo shows a trial fit of the top wing, it is only resting on the cabane struts. The tail rigging has been completed on the top only, I used 0.12mm mono painted with Mr Metal Color Stainless, the small brass sleeves are 0.4mm brass tube drilled out to 0.3mm and held with CA. There are turnbuckles on the elevator control wires close to the control horns. The red stripes on the elevator are short near the rudder, I tried to centralize the decal when I was applying it but if I did that there would have been a gap either side, so to repair one side is much easier. I will have to find a red paint that is going to match the decal red then carefully fill in the missing bits, this is a major error in the decal printing and should not have happened, this spoils what are otherwise very good decals.


The top wing is now fitted, it went on extremely easy with no hassles at all. By increasing the bottom wing dihedral I had to reduce the length of the interplane struts. The strut location points are not pins as you would expect, Academy has a ‘foot’ on both ends of the strut which are a bit bulky and they need trimming to suit the angle of the wings, they locate well but will need painting to match the wing colour. The top wing has remained dead straight and the bottom wing dihedral is near spot on. The tail end rigging is now completed with wires to the rudder and the tail skid. Once the glue has set on the struts I will commence the wing rigging. By the way, the top wing was fitted inverted, the top wing was placed flat on my bench and the inverted aircraft placed onto the wing, the cabane struts were fitted first and allowed to set before the interplane struts were added.


Most of the rigging is now completed, I used 0.12mm monofilament. The two wire at the front of the cabane struts needed a separator to hold the bottom wire away from the machine guns, I shaped this from a piece of plastic sprue then drilled a 0.4mm hole sideways through the centre. I fitted the top wire first, it was connected to the top wing next to one of the struts, it then passed through the separator then was connected to the opposite side on the top wing, it was left loose. I then connected the bottom wire to the turnbuckle at the bottom of the strut and again passed it through the separator and connected it to the opposite side turnbuckle. Adjustments with both upper and lower wires were made until the bottom wire was just clear of the machine guns, then tension was applied and CA used to hold it all together, the wires and the separator were painted with Mr Metal Color Stainless. All that remains is the aileron control rigging.


The Completed Model

The Academy Sopwith Camel F.1 kit has not received rave reviews over the years but as can be seen from this build log, it can turn into a pretty nice looking model. The main issues are the overly exaggerated wing ribs, but these can be easily fixed, also the lack of detail in the cockpit, this is another area that can quite easily be enhanced. This model will now take pride and place among my other 1:32 scale WW1 aircraft models.

For an inexpensive kit it looks as good as any of my other models so I would highly recommend this kit for those with some experience in building bi-plane models.

The top wing on this model is dead straight, the camera tends to distort the image slightly giving the impression that the top wing dips down a little at the tips.

If you have any questions regarding this model please contact me and I will endeavour to answer your questions.